I’m ready to die for Hurungwe: Mliswa

HARARE – Expelled Hurungwe West legislator and former Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman — Temba Mliswa (pictured) — is not fazed by the State machinery and security agents deployed in his constituency by his former party — declaring he will die for his people.

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Our chief writer Fungi Kwaramba interviewed the fiery politician and below are the excerpts of the interview.

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Q:  People sometimes view you as a racist and a land grabber, how do you respond to that?

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A: I never invaded a farm. They (people) must understand that when I got this land I talked to the whites who were on the farms, we made agreements and went before the courts.

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I paid for the cattle and the equipment. I had some money that I had saved and some of the farmers wanted to leave their farms in the hands of someone who was capable.

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I have the papers that prove I bought the farm and I was never a front of the white farmers. I had saved some money and with my parents’ help, I managed to buy the cattle and equipment. The land reform was a very good programme.

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Q: What about the indigenisation programme?

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A: It is certainly a good programme but unlike the land reform programme it is not broad based, it has became a cartel for a few individuals.

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It’s unfortunate that the law gives the minister(Lands) the sole discretion to make decisions and therefore can be abused. But you do not want to give one person such powers, now some of these ministers have riches they cannot account for.

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Q: Why are you speaking about this now?

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A: If you follow Temba Mliswa, I have always been outspoken. I was critical of the party. I pointed to corruption even when I was still in the party. I know of multiple land owners and I alerted the relevant authorities. It is my position and principle that they are not comfortable with it because the things that I believe in are factual and real and I will remain outspoken.

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Q: What is the stumbling block against tackling corruption?

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A: There is reluctance to investigate those who are alleged to be corrupt. Most of these ministers are warehousing their moneys and they hide behind some people, but if proper investigations are carried out you will find out that most of these ministers are corrupt. The President (Robert Mugabe) has spoken of zero tolerance to corruption and it is time for action.

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Q: You have named some very powerful ministers are you not scared of jail or your life?

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A: Hebrew 6 verse 3 is very clear: “Trust in me not man, fear me not man.”  I am very religious about what I believe in and I am ready to die for what I believe in.

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If I am to die because of politics then I will die. For now, I will speak.  I live for now, I do not live for tomorrow.

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The issues I am highlighting are serious and should be investigated. I have been before the courts and acquitted and those who are alleged to be corrupt should also be brought to book and answer to the charges. I do not fear man, it’s against my beliefs. I want to leave something for my kids and that is a good Zimbabwe.

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Q: Why did you choose Hurungwe when you are not from there?

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A: I have been in Hurungwe since 2005; people do not know the kind of relationship I have with the constituents. They were neglected and as a successful farmer I helped them.

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I targeted the place because it had been neglected by politicians. It was those people who approached me and said I should be an MP. I wanted to improve the area. I bought implements from Bulawayo which were meant for the mechanisation programme, harrows, ploughs and scotch carts and gave to them because they never benefited from the programme.

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What is happening in Hurungwe right now is something that I have always wanted, that the area goes under the spotlight. There is attention and that can only bring good things to the area

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Q: What have you done for the people of Hurungwe to improve their lot?

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A: I pay school fees for 1 200 children and at university level I pay fees for at least 200 students annually. That is how you bring development to an area. I do not get anything from there, I am there to serve.

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Q: Zanu PF has thrown everything in the Hurungwe polls, and you are viewed as the embodiment of the Mai Joice Mujuru faction and they want to stop you. What’s your reaction to this?

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A: This talk of Mai Mujuru has divided the party. I was hoping after congress people would sit down and forgive each other but the purging did not stop and people used the opportunity to settle scores. In Mashonaland West comrade Ignatius Chombo (Zanu PF secretary for administration) never liked me. He always regarded me as a threat because I am outspoken and dynamic.

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The same with the acting chairman Ziyambi Ziyambi. He has no political gravitas and we brought him to politics, because we wanted new guys who are educated. I don’t come from Hurungwe West but the people there like me.

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Some of the people who are now attacking Mai Mujuru like Saviour Kasukuwere were her ardent supporters in 2004 when some of us were supporting VP Mnangagwa, but when he did not make it we conformed to what the party wanted.

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Q: Why are you so confident of victory?

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A: It is the role of the commissariat department to campaign for Zanu PF. This was a good opportunity to test the strength of Zanu PF and not to rope in the State which must protect all of us. They are lying to themselves if they decide to rig the elections. Who are you cheating? You are cheating yourself. Zanu PF lost the support of the people in 2008.  I wrestled the seat from the MDC. The party has no support at all.

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Q: Do you still love Zanu PF?

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A: The party expelled me I did not leave Zanu PF. To me there are a lot of positive things about Zanu PF, for instance I love the president he is an upright man. Whether it’s a weakness or not I still love him, maybe it’s the fact that I have met him on several occasions and understand him.

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He is a good man but is surrounded by liars. I would like to see the party maintaining its liberation ideals but the young Turks, the Saviour Kasukuweres (Zanu PF political commissar) of this world are too power hungry and have forgotten about the liberation struggle.

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Q: Are you saying there is still factionalism in Zanu PF even after your expulsion along with many other perceived factionalists?

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A: Currently, there are two factions, one supported by the war veterans, the President, VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, VP Phelekezela Mphoko, cdes like Oppah Muchinguri, cde Chris Mutsvangwa, these are comrades who understand the struggle and we have the young Turks faction that includes Kasukuwere, the Jonathan Moyos, the Chombos — they have their own agenda, but they do not control the people.

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The good thing about having war veterans in power is that they will never forget the revolution and the people, but when you have people who were supposed to be in war like Chombo but were not and are now in power, you ask yourself why didn’t they go to the war. We want young people who will guard jealously the gains of the liberation struggle — but this group is there only to protect their interests.

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Q: What is your view of the People First movement?

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A: When people have been kicked out of a house, even children, they can build their own house.

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People are thinking of setting up another party because they have been kicked out from the only one they ever knew. I feel for people like cde Didymus Mutasa, he is over 80 years old.

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He has been loyal to the president. He has been loyal to the party and my prayer is that one day the good Lord arranges a meeting between him and the president.

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Q: Are you a member of the People First?

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A: I am looking at something that is bigger. I have spoken about the need for a grand coalition that will also include Zanu PF. The president has been able to keep the party together but everything comes to an end, people are now looking beyond him and that is inevitable.

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Q: What is your relationship with VP Mnangagwa?

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A: He has a great track record. He is a war veteran and he has been involved in the governance of this country for a long time now.

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He has worked closely with the president and he is a great professional. Yes, we are cousins there is no two ways about that.

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The last time I saw him he told me in uncertain terms that I cannot stand as an independent and fight the party. He told me to learn from him, his patience, but it is about generations.

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His generation decided to go to war and this time we are at a different level. I wish he could come in and bring stability to the party and stop the purges.

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This interview was first published in the Daily News